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I’ve written on the topic before. And I’m uncomfortable with becoming a constant whiner. But would you guys grow to fuck up?

How in the world, with an INTERNET PRICE MATCH GUARANTEE, guaranteeing absolutely that if you find a HIGHER price on the Internet anywhere, WE’LL MATCH IT, do we keep attracting this clingy, grasping, wheedling, begging band of bottom feeders? We absolutely do not post to any of the known bottom feeder online haunts. But somehow they find us and just keep at it?

I’m sympathetic to a point. Everyone wants value for their hard earned ducats. I confess I “shop” a bit and do bristle at people obviously marking things up heroically in the hope someone will buy by accident anyway. And in this weeks show, we welcome a personal visit from Damien Maguire, the ultimate bottom feeder – indeed the Martha Stewart of EV’s. Martha makes a glass of orange juice on her show starting with an orange tree seed. Shows you how to plant and water it. Waits patiently until it grows into a tree. Picks the oranges by hand, and then hand squeezes them – filtering out the seeds and pulp. In this way, excellent fresh orange juice and organic at that. And in a lovely glass, complete with a lovely napkin and a homegrown rose – no chemicals used at all.

Mr. Maguire is inventive. He builds his own chargers, controllers, and doesn’t even use a DC-DC converter, just charges an old 12v lead battery. He gets his motors mostly from junkyards and cleans them up himself. Like Martha Stewart. Build an EV from dirt.

He does derive a lot of education from the thrift. Which is good, as he often spends more on doing it from dirt than he would have by buying good quality prepared components in the first place. So it’s kind of a deliberate and demonstrated bottom feeding in a controlled fashion.

But gradually the learning process takes hold. He’s kind of grown past the headway cell modules he used to painfully build. Today it is CA180’s and the odd Better Place pack.

His latest build uses one of our Siemens motors. You see at some point, it comes home that value is about VALUE, not about the numeric price. You ultimately pay the piper either way, and he’s explored ALL the ways on the way to where he is today. At some point, you realize that unless you just LIKE the smell of dumpsters, dumpster diving for EV parts really doesn’t save anything, and the odds of them making it an olympic sport are pretty grim.

He contiinues to experiment, but now he STARTS with a DMOC645 and sets out to improve it with a different controller. This kind of leads to the possibility of an ongoing controller for the Siemens motor AFTER the very limited supply of DMOC645’s run out. He’s removed the proprietary controller adn gate driver boards, and replaced them with more available stuff. The IGBT’s heat sinks, and capacitors are all more or less available and indeed, BETTER power electronics are now available. We like all that as we have signficantly MORE motors on hand than we quite have controllers for.

Along those lines, I’m mildly embarassed to admit that I’ve stooped to kind of a mean spirited response to what was TWO very mean spirited pokes I received from one of our existing customers and from Michael Bream of EVWEST. The result was that the customer paid nearly $1000 more than he had to for a motor, and Michael’s HPEVS sales have essentially gone away. But living in a world of pricks is not exactly an excuse for BEING a prick. It appears so. But it is self-destructive. A drive to the least common denominator with me making a personal choice to much about in the mud at the bottom of the pond with them.

That’s not how we normally run around here.

What I did was put the entire HPEVS line on sale here at approximately our cost. Kind of squishy as we always include the chill plate and a couple of other items which is hard to communicate in the online price comparison. But yes, we threw the concept of profit out the window for a few weeks.

The results are more than interesting. I have now my FOURTH incident of multiple e-mail exchanges that however nicely put, however generously read, were from people who wanted the HPEVS equipment but for LESS YET. Rather proving my point that the actual price DOESN’T MATTER. There is no longer a need to offer the bet. Indeed, it is kind of proven empirically. If I offered these SAME motors and controllers for a package price of $300, it would INDEED increase interest. And I would hear from the SAME four guys, who really just couldn’t quite make up their mind, unless I could do them a “special” deal at $275. $300. $10,000. Doesn’t matter. They just want it for less. Whatever it is. There is no value in their mind. Only the price.

One guy was quite miffed. He thought he should get teh AC50 motor with the newer 1239 controller since it was available “optionally” for the AC50 as well as the AC51. How dare I want more money for the option. The web site is obviously misleading and I should honor the AC50 price WITH the 1239 AC-51 controller.

So we’ll give it another week and end the price war. It really didn’t accomplish much. I don’t actually want to drive EVWEST out of business. What competitors do, by EVTV core policy, doesn’t matter. Our competition is ourself. If we can improve on our show, our products, our shipping and delivery, 1% each and every month, after a certain but unknown number of serial months, we win. That’s the theory. And we don’t normally even acknowledge that there IS competition. Worked like a charm at Boardwatch. And it will here as well.

But the constant pressure is an emotional drain. We are currently working hard at decoding the operation of OEM parts so that WE can offer them at lower prices than what you are paying for similar equipment now. We’re not even THERE yet and I am besieged by those who want to buy at the eBay price and use our efforts to make them go, cutting us out of the process along the way. No, they don’t really want to contribute anything to the process and indeed profess they are unable to do so by time available and skills on hand. But shouldn’t we in the spirit of open source, give it to them for free anyway?

I don’t know. Should we?

It rather means the end of the effort to do so. Will it then continue automatically anyway? I fear not.

You see at the heart of this is where the Ev world was when we arrived. Almost no one with any equipment that was useful would sell it to individual DIY hobbyists. Indeed the genre had a horrible reputation simply based on the bottom feeder phenonmenon. That’s why Siemens won’t sell you motors. Borg Warner won’t sell you eGearDrives. AC propulsion doesn’t want to talk to you unless you can come up with some persuasive lie as to how you are going to ultimately purchase 100 of them. UQM ditto. Most of them WILL sell you something, at 3X their real price. If you are willing to pay it, they WILL sell you a drive train for $25,000. Or the same thing to a prospective OEM at $5000.

The irony of our quest is I could have easily told the lie. ANd we could have easily bought and sold all the OEMs they have been dealing with right up to bankruptcy, using our entertainment funds. 99% of these startups were always BIG HAT – NO CATTLE with an occasional infusion of other people’s money that was of course lost entirely.

We don’t do BIG HAT, no cattle. We don’t even do BIG HAT with cattle. Even with lots of cattle. Most of the guys who actually DO have lots of cattle actually wear baseball caps anyway. In this part of the country, if you see a guy with a big cowboy hat and a lot of talk, almost everyone knows to simply avoid him.

The bottom line is if you do truly want the best price in all cases and want to ensure that anyone you get it from makes 0% profit OR LESS, you are really saying you want NO market participants, NO trade in either information or goods, and you would PREFER to buy from OEMs with everything proprietary and pricing at their whim as a VICTIM.

We think there is a seam in the zone here to lower the true cost of building custom electric vehicles. We see a path to do that. But if the object of the game is to cut us out of it, it may well be a path not taken – to the least common denominator in information, components, and custom electric vehicles.

I would ask that you eschew the group that counts the cost of everything and the value of nothing, and rather join with us in delight as we together drive a path toward lower costs and better components for everyone. Along the way, I think we can make a couple of important further points. Innovation comes from small shops of one or two guys. And more “open” cars are desirable. Not because they are cheaper. Because they are better and allow third party further innovations, improvements, and so forth. I look at the VW Beetle, the Ford Mustang front end, the Ford 9-inch rear end, and the vast ecosphere of support and variations available for all those, and envision it for future cars as well. I would like for it to be the Tesla. But I’ll settle for a Chevy Volt or a Leaf if that’s the way it turns out.

As noted in the video. Yes, I did score a Tesla Drive Train for $6500. No, we will not sell it to you for that. Yes, you can probably find one as well. No we will not enable you to use it using our efforts for free. But yes, I can see them in stock for less than $10-12K within the year.

Yes of course you can cut us out of the deal. But you will probably wind up with $15K in it when you do. And if you are after the education and willing to pay that, you might as well join our hack team and be part of it. I think we’re already losing a few because they don’t like the term “ass clowns” and indeed resent it. If you are into titles, you probably want to avoid us.

Jack Rickard
Editor Rotundus Magnus Maximus
Ass-Clown Imperator Maximus